Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: SLANDER (09/07/17)
- TITLE: Fired
By Francy Judge
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The kids say I’m too harsh, but I believe rules are important for their character. I love the students who walk through this school and will do anything to protect them—even if that means getting their favorite teacher fired.
I sip the scalding tea from my apple mug and call Mrs. Brush first. “Did you hear about Mr. Frank?”
“About his promotion to head of the history department?”
“No, that was last week. I heard him tell Principal Daniels he would be out for a while.”
“Why? Is he sick? Does he need an operation?”
“Listen…he said he has to go to Court for committing a serious crime.”
"What? Oh, my. I knew he couldn’t be trusted when the students voted for him to get the Best Teacher Award. No one could be that perfect. This young generation has no morals, just falls for good looks. I wonder what he did.”
“He’s moved a lot. Must be running from his past.”
"If he gets fired, you would have to be the head of the department."
I do have twenty more years’ experience than Mr. Frank and deserve the position, but of course that’s not my motivation. “The important thing is that we don’t have someone like that teaching our students. Principal Daniels is too easy-going. He must not realize how serious this is or he would have held a meeting by now.”
“I’ll get the word out. By tomorrow most of the school board and the parents will know the truth.”
“Good. I’ll type up the email.”
I think hard about what to write. Parents have to know we have things under control and their children are not in any danger, so I write a letter and insert every name from the contacts list.
We are writing to inform you about one of your child’s teachers. Mr. Frank is on trial for a serious crime and is taking a leave of absence for a while. There is no need to be concerned, for we will not let him return unless he is declared innocent of the charges. Your children are our top priority. We will keep you up to date if any new information arises.
By Wednesday, my phone has thirty-two messages in voicemail, all asking if their child could be switched out of Mr. Frank’s class and into mine.
As I walk past room 207, I hear Mr. Frank’s deep voice. I look through the glass square on the door to make sure I’m not just hearing things. Mr. Frank waves to me.
I cover my mouth. How? My chest tightens as I storm into the main office and knock on the principal’s door. I take a deep breath and enter, ready to attack and get him fired.
“Come in. And how are you today, Ms. Chaffer? You look upset.” He sprays water over a pot of orange zinnias.
“I am upset. How could Mr. Frank be allowed to teach here after what he did?”
Principal Daniels tilts his head like my Beagle when she doesn’t understand me. Is he kidding or playing stupid? “Has his case gone to trial yet?”
“What does that have to do with him teaching here?”
“A criminal shouldn’t be allowed to teach. I heard Mr. Frank say he had to go to court for committing a serious crime.”
“The bigger problem is your eavesdropping. And jumping to conclusions. Mr. Frank was not on trial, serving jury duty. Big difference.”
I wish someone would pour a bucket of ice on my overheated body right now. What have I done?
“You didn’t share this with anyone, did you?”
I debate whether running out the door is a good idea.
Principal Daniel’s eyes look larger than they did minutes ago. “I sent out some emails.”
“How many is some?”
“Over six hundred.”
He jumps to his feet, and the flower pot falls, smashing on the tiles. “Six hundred? Were you trying to destroy this man’s career?”
I pick up the broken pottery. “I was trying to protect the children.”
“When were you appointed judge over all?”
I bite my quivering lip.
“You’re fired…unless you email every parent and apologize to Mr. Frank.”
I can’t speak, just nod.
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